Monthly Archives: November 2014

A Sign of the Times: Independent Publisher Becomes Nonprofit

Screen Shot 2014-11-28 at 12.19.33 PMBeing an independent publisher in this day and age is hard. Here’s some proof: well-respected publisher McSweeney’s has become a nonprofit.

According to the L.A. Times, the publisher, which has been around for more than a decade and was founded by bestselling author Dave Eggers, became a nonprofit last month. Eggers explained to the Chronicle that “so many of the things that we wanted to do were nonprofit projects and were not really things you could reasonably expect to break even on.”

The hope is that McSweeney’s will continue to sustain itself. Several other nonprofit publishers have, including Red Hen Press in L.A., Beacon Press in Boston and Graywolf Press in Minneapolis.

McSweeney’s publishes adult and children novels, literary criticism and journals, a magazine, and poetry. Hopefully it’s reputation and well-known founder, Dave Eggers, will help to keep it afloat. But if it doesn’t succeed, it may be a sign of the times that either big-name publishers or self-publishing is the way to go.

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Movie vs. Book: Mockingjay (Part 1)

**Spoiler Alert: Because of the popularity of both this book and movie, this review does include spoilers. 

Mockingjay picks up shortly after where Catching Fire left off. We see Katniss shaking, crying, having a nightmare as she so often does now in her post-Hunger Games world. She’s suffering from PTSD as she tries to make sense of what happened in the Quarter Quell and as she wonders if Peeta is even alive.

She has so many questions, but without receiving answers, she is quickly thrust once again into the spotlight as Plutarch Heavensbee and President Coin, the president of District 13, choose her as the symbol of the rebellion, the Mockingjay. With most of the districts in disarray or completely destroyed after the rebellious move Katniss makes in the Quarter Quell, President Coin and Plutarch work hard to take the lead in the rebellion and join forces with the other districts to take down the Capitol. That means having Katniss star in several propaganda videos to air across Panem. The videos come in response to the Capitol’s propaganda videos, starring a brainwashed, angry Peeta, who has lost the support of the rebels.

Katniss agrees to help under certain conditions — that Peeta and the other tributes will be saved and pardoned once they are freed from the Capitol. Despite her concerns, President Coin agrees, and Katniss and a video crew shoot several videos that air across the country. eventually leading to the rebels gaining enough control that they’re able to free Peeta from the Capitol. But when Peeta returns, he is not the same. He is brainwashed and enraged by Katniss, causing him to try to kill her.

The book and movie are mostly the same, but there are a few slight changes. For instance, in the book, Katniss agrees to be the face of the rebellion only if Peeta and the other tributes are freed and pardoned, and if she can be the person to kill President Snow. But in the movie, the demand to kill President Snow is cut. It’s not a huge change. But in the book, President Coin responds by saying “I’ll flip you for it.” The demand and the accompanying dialogue serve to display the extent of Katniss’s anger toward Snow and that she and Coin have now connected.

Other changes include minor ones about District 13 — the details of the district’s daily schedules have been cut. So has the insight into District 13’s treatment of Katniss’s prep team. Again, not a huge loss, but it certainly eliminates some of the most important foreshadowing about District 13 and the people who are in charge.

Whereas Mockingjay, the novel, has an ending, Mockingjay Part 1 does not. Yes, that’s obvious, but the movie ending with the freeing of Peeta only serves as further build to the next movie — and because of that, the movie doesn’t have its own plot. It’s more of a series of scenes and happenstances with not much more than build and foreshadowing. The movie isn’t bad. In fact, it’s pretty dead-on and fantastic. But when your movie tells the story of half a book, it’s going to feel like half a movie.

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Danielle Steel Strikes A New Book Deal

In case 92 bestsellers weren’t enough, Danielle Steel has a few more up her sleeve.

According to Entertainment Weekly, the prolific author just struck a 10-book deal with Ballantine Bantam Dell, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Steel has sold 650 million books worldwide. Apparently every single book of her is a bestseller, making her the biggest selling author alive.

With this deal, she already has four books set to be released next year.

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Prince Charles Biography On the Way

We’re about to learn a lot about the British royal still waiting to take the throne. According to Entertainment Weekly, a new biography about Prince Charles is set to debut next year.

Written by Time magazine editor-at-large Catherine Mayer, Born to Be King: Prince Charles on Planet Windsor will include information gathered from friends of Charles, palace insiders, and the prince himself. Henry Holt and Company has purchased the book, which will be “slightly pared down from the U.K./international edition from WH Allen.”

The book will include information about the prince from his first marriage to Princess Diana until present day. The book is expected to be published in February 2015.

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Review: The Winter People

Recap: On page one, we dive into the diary of Sara Harrison Shea, known from legends dating back to  the early 1900s as the woman who mysteriously died at 31 and whose husband killed himself soon after. The reason? According to the legend, Sara’s daughter, Gertie, — who was already dead — killed her. According to the legend, Gertie is a “sleeper,” a person who has been revived from the dead. This legend carries on for generations throughout West Hill, Vermont, the land of the “Devil’s Hand,” where every few decades another mysterious death happens and where stories of “sleepers” live on.

In present day, it’s troubled teenager Ruthie and her six-year-old sister, Fawn, who are left to wonder if the stories are true. But as soon as their mother Alice goes missing, they’re forced to find out once and for all. They stumble upon several wallets in their home. The wallets belong to people who they’ve never heard of. They set out to find the couple, only to learn that they are dead too. Suddenly their mother’s disappearance seems like less of a coincidence and more of a strategic kidnapping — and possible death — that can only be explained by more than 100 years worth of mythology and mystery.

Analysis: The sci-fi mythology and mystery around which the story centers is just the beginning. Author Jennifer McMahon’s storytelling is what makes The Winter People complex, scary, and page-turning. The novel flips back and forth between 1908 and present day — between diary entries from Sara Harrison Shea and the perspectives of Ruthie and several other characters. Over time, the bits and pieces from each section come together to show that the characters are connected and that the legends may be truer and (literally!) closer to home than Ruthie thinks.

The beginning is confusing. There are lots of characters, and it’s hard to keep the relationships between them straight. But it’s clear from the onset that very strange things are happening in this town, and albeit (so!) creepy, The Winter People is written in a way that makes you want to learn the truth, no matter how horrifying it might be.

It’s worth noting that a lot of the gruesome sections are focused around young girls, and the creepy wackjobs generally turned out to be women. Maybe the author’s way of saying all women are a little crazy? But as I think it’s her way displaying that all women have their secrets — and to discover them is either a blessing or a curse.

MVP: Ruthie. She’s the most stable of the characters and the only one who’s not creepy. She should be commended for keeping a good head on her shoulders and keeping calm during her journey to uncover the mystery.

Get The Winter People in paperback for $11.21.

Or get it on your Kindle for $7.99.

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Producer to Pen ‘The Originals’ Spinoff Books

First comes the book, then comes the movie. Sometimes first comes the book, then comes the TV show. But every once in a while, the TV show comes first, and then spinoff books are written. Such is the case with the CW’s The Originals.

According to Entertainment WeeklyThe Originals executive producer Julie Plec is currently working on three novels based on the TV series. To tell the 1,000-year history of the characters, Plec will pen three books in an Originals trilogy: The Originals: The Rise, The Originals: The Loss, and The Originals: The Resurrection. The books are due to be released in February, April and June, 2015.

The TV show itself is already a spinoff of the CW’s biggest hit show in years, The Vampire Diaries. Now in its second season, The Originals tells the story of the original siblings returning to New Orleans for the first time since the early 1900s.

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Tom Hanks To Pen Book of Short Stories

He acts! He directs! And now he writes!

According to Vulture, Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks plans to write a book of short stories. This comes after he made his short story debut in The New Yorker.

The stories in the book will apparently be “loosely connected to photographs of typewriters from Hanks’ personal collection.”

Yes, Tom Hanks loves typewriters. In fact, he loves them so much, he collects them and helped create an iPad app that lets people type and print documents as if it’s on an old-fashioned typewriter. But a book full of stories about pictures of typewriters? Seems a little iffy to me. But hey, whatever floats your boat!

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